Page 1

Mary’s

advent

Calvary Church 2012 Family Advent Devotional Guide

ure

Visit www.advent.calvarygr.org for instructions, ideas and music!


freeze! Calvary Church 2012 Family Advent Devotional Guide


Calvary Church 707 East Beltline NE Grand Rapids, MI 49525 616-956-9377 calvarygr.org

Freeze!

A Family Advent Devotional Guide Copyright © 2012 Calvary Church, Children’s Ministries All rights reserved. Authors: Julie Link, Joel Shank Designer: Sarah Merrill Photography: Russ Climie of Tiberius Images tiberius images.com Visit www.advent.calvarygr.org for Advent ideas, including a dramatization of Sunday devotionals. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com


contents Freeze! An Introduction............................................. 6 Advent: What It Is...................................................... 7

Week Three: We Need JOY..................................... 31

Sunday, December 16...................................... 32

Monday, December 17..................................... 38

Advent Devotion Guide: How to Use It..................... 8

Tuesday, December 18..................................... 38

Advent Wreath: How to Make It................................ 9

Wednesday, December 19............................... 39

Thursday, December 20................................... 39

Friday, December 21........................................ 39

Saturday, December 22.................................... 40

The Christ Present................................................... 10 Week One: We Need HOPE.................................... 11

Sunday, December 2........................................ 12

Monday, December 3....................................... 18

Tuesday, December 4....................................... 18

Wednesday, December 5................................. 19

Thursday, December 6..................................... 19

Friday, December 7.......................................... 19

Saturday, December 8...................................... 20

Week Four: We Need LOVE.................................... 41

Sunday, December 23...................................... 42

Monday, December 24..................................... 48

Week Two: We Need PEACE................................... 21

Sunday, December 9........................................ 22

Monday, December 10..................................... 28

Tuesday, December 11..................................... 28

Wednesday, December 12............................... 29

Thursday, December 13................................... 29

Friday, December 14........................................ 29

Saturday, December 15.................................... 30

page 5


freeze! an introduction Don’t you love getting snowed in? School stops, work stops, and the “urgent” business is halted—not so urgent, I guess! The world around us seems frozen, allowing us time to get caught up, spend time with family, enjoy a warm cup of coffee or hot chocolate. In our busy world, we have trouble finding time to slow down and think.

page 6

Christmas.

When you hear that word, what comes to mind? Hope or wish lists? Peace or rushing? It’s difficult to stop and remember Christ, let alone soak in the hope and peace we experience through Him. Then we add presents, celebrations, shopping, gatherings, and more presents . . . . Let’s face it, we wish we had a plan to cancel the holiday (even the good parts), freeze time, and settle down. This year, we want to put a “freeze” on Christmas so we can quiet our souls and remember that our hope, peace, joy, and love come only through Christ. If you want to slow down this Christmas, we invite you to use this family devotional guide to help your family “freeze” some moments during the holidays. This collection of stories, Scripture readings, devotionals, prayers, and activities will guide you through the traditional topics of Advent: hope, peace, joy, and love. Use it to ponder Christ’s coming, consider what it means for us, and remember the meaning of the season.


advent What It Is Many in our evangelical world are finding the need to revisit historical Christian practices and experience the ancient roots of our Christian faith. This booklet is an attempt to rediscover the joy of Advent, the traditional four-week celebration leading up to Christmas focusing on themes of hope, peace, joy, and love. As you journey through Advent with your family, may God warm your relationships and brighten your entire outlook on this season with the light of His Son, Jesus Christ. The word “Advent” is from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming.” It’s a season of the Christian liturgical year in which churches prepare for the celebration of Christ’s Nativity. Advent lasts for about four weeks, beginning four Sundays prior to December 25.

During Advent, Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus by remembering the longing of the Jews in the Old Testament for a Messiah. In Advent, we’re reminded of how much we too need a Savior, and we look forward to Christ’s Second Coming even as we prepare to celebrate His first coming at Christmas. Indeed, the Latin word adventus is translated from the Greek word parousia, which means “coming” or “visit” and is commonly used in Scripture to reference the future Second Coming of Christ. During Advent we keep in mind both “advents” of Christ, the first being long ago in Bethlehem and the second which is yet to come—our future hope of Christ’s return. For Christians, the season of Advent is a reminder of how Jews in the Old Testament waited for the birth of their Messiah and also how Christians today wait for the Second Coming of Christ.

page 7


family devotional guide How to use this Devotional Guide

Saturday

Sunday

Read part of the Nativity story from the book of Luke. By the end of the Christmas season, families will have read the entire Nativity story.

LIGHT the Advent candles. On the first week, one candle is lit. Each week an additional candle is lit until all five are lit on Christmas Day. READ the “ADVENTure” story (this year based on the life of Mary the mother of Jesus) which shows how Jesus was God’s Son and would bring Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love to all people. DISCUSS the story using the “Freeze” contemplation and conversation questions that are provided. REMIND family members of the Christ Present (See “The Christ Present” section on page 10.) BLOW OUT the flame.

Monday through Friday Read the Scripture from Psalms (repeated daily), “Freeze” to ask some application questions, and end with a prayer.

page 8

Open the Christ Present. (See “The Christ Present” on page 10.) On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, the final portion of the Nativity story will be read. Families will then open presents if that is their tradition. After opening presents, the family will gather to open the “Christ Present” and to choose objects that will remain in the box from Christmas to Christmas. Each family member will choose one item to stay (not their own) and explain how it represents Christ’s love. The objects chosen will be our present to Christ and will represent how we worshiped Him as a family during Advent. After closing the “Christ Present,” light the final candle, the Christ candle, which represents God’s gift to us—“Christ’s Presence!”


advent wreath The Advent wreath is a simple evergreen wreath placed horizontally on a table. It has five candles nestled inside it (three outside candles are purple; one is rose; the middle one is white). The wreath is a Christian tradition that uses candles to symbolize the four themes of Christmas: hope, peace, joy, and love.

Visit advent.calvarygr.org for an instruction video!

Beginning with the first Sunday of Advent, the lighting of a candle is accompanied by a Bible reading and prayers. An additional candle is lit during each subsequent week until, by the last Sunday before Christmas, all four candles are lit. The fifth candle is the “Christ” candle, which is lit on Christmas Day. This custom is observed both in family settings and at public church services. The wreath has no beginning or end, symbolizing eternity. The evergreens symbolize that everlasting life is found in Christ. The candles are lit to remember that Christ is “the Light that came into

the world” to dispel the darkness of sin, bringing bright hope to mankind. The four candles, which represent the four Advent themes, remind us of royalty and how God’s people waited on the birth of Christ like the birth of a king. The rose candle, usually for the third Sunday of Advent, symbolizes Joy at the soon Advent of the Christ. It marks a shift from the first two Sundays of Advent that focus on Hope and Peace, to a joyous atmosphere of anticipation and expectancy. The white candle is triumphant and celebrative because Christ is born.

page 9


the christ present We encourage every family to make or purchase a “Christ Present” memory box. Visit www.advent.calvarygr.org for an instruction video!

This memory box will hold small objects representing worship for each family member throughout Advent and will be stored under your Christmas tree if you have one. It may be used every Advent season to serve as an memory box for years to come. A box approximately 12x12x12 should work. Also have a journal that will fit inside the box. Use it to note who contributed the objects each week, and what the objects represented (for example, “John, a pebble reminding him that God’s promises are solid and enduring, especially during tough exams this week!”). The journal can hold many years’ worth of reporting. Each family member will collect one small item each week that represents the first three themes of Advent. The items can be as simple as a written note, a picture, or even a piece of nature that represents a reason for worshiping God. Place your object in the “Christ Present” box, which you will open to show everyone on Christmas during page 10

your family devotional time. On December 24 or 25, before the Christ candle is lit, the “Christ Present” will be opened, and each family member will choose one object that best represents God’s love. These items will stay in the box throughout all Christmases. Stipulations: the object must be small; it must hold meaning for the person choosing it; and all family members must have one object left in the box. Remaining items can be included in the box for Christmases to come, be hung on the Christmas tree, or be displayed elsewhere if desired. Before closing the “Christ Present,” take a picture of your family to be placed in a zip-lock bag with the objects chosen to remain in the box (or you can attach the picture in your journal at the end of your entries). The bag should be dated, placed back in the box, and the box should be stored until the following year. This will become a permanent record of your family Christmas celebration. Many Christmases from now you can open it and relive the experience with your children and grandchildren.


Week One

hope W e need


Sunday, December 2

We need Place your wreath in the middle of the room on a well-supported table or platform. Dim the lights in the room. Ready your lighter or match. Read this short introduction.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. Christ has come!

hope

Light the HOPE candle (purple) Sing

Oh, come let us adore Him. Oh, come let us adore Him. Oh, come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Imagine this story being told by Mary, the mother of Jesus, God’s Son. These stories found in the Bible (Luke 1-2) will help you see that you need Jesus to give you hope, peace, joy and love this Christmas.

Dramatized story from “Mary” available for download at www.advent. calvarygr.org

page 12


mary’s story Waiting.

Waiting.Waiting.For as along as anyone could remember, we’d been waiting. My parents waited. My grandparents waited. And generations before them waited. Every year when the holidays came around, the people in our place of worship talked about how long we had been waiting. Every day as I went about my work, I thought about waiting. I thought about it when I went to get water at the well. I thought about it when I ground the grain after harvest. I thought about it when I made bread for a meal. What were we waiting for? We were waiting for God. God had promised to send Isarael a king to rescue us from the army of Rome that had made us prisoners in our own land. God promised He wouldn’t forget us. But we were feeling forgotten. More and more years passed—hundreds of years in fact—and still He didn’t come. To be truthful, we were beginning to think that the waiting would never end. We knew that our ancestors had disobeyed God and made Him angry. But God promised that He wouldn’t be angry forever (Jeremiah 3:12). Had we misunderstood? Would the waiting never end?

page 13


But then, just about the time everyone had given up hope, an angel showed up. That’s right, an angel. A real angel, not the kind you put on top of your Christmas tree. This angel called himself Gabriel, and he showed up first to the priest Zechariah, who was married to my cousin Elizabeth. Zechariah and Elizabeth were old, very old, much too old to have children. But the angel told Zechariah that he and Elizabeth were going to have a baby boy. Well, Zechariah thought that was just about the wildest thing he had ever heard. Maybe the angel had come to the wrong address. So he asked for a sign to prove that this was really going to happen. He also mentioned to the angel that he and his wife were old, very old, much

page 14


too old to have children, just in case he hadn’t noticed. Zechariah got a sign, but it wasn’t the kind he wanted. The angel scolded Zechariah for not believing and told him that he would be unable to speak until the baby was born. Poor Zechariah. He couldn’t even tell Elizabeth what had happened. He had to use sign language! But it turned out the angel was right. Within a short time Elizabeth was expecting a baby.

page 15


Six months after Gabriel visited Zechariah, he came to my town, Nazareth. This time he showed up at my house. Instead of asking to talk to my mom or dad, he started talking to me! His greeting was a bit formal. “Greetings, you who are highly favored!” he said. “The Lord is with you.” Well, no one had ever spoken to me like that before, so it was rather startling, frightening even. Maybe he saw the fear in my eyes, or maybe my face went white. I don’t know, but he figured out quickly that I was scared, so the next thing he said was, “Do not be afraid.” Well, if the greeting was strange, the message was even more strange. He told me first that I had found favor with God, which was nice to hear. At least that meant it wasn’t my fault that God was still angry. But then he made an announcement that still rings in my ears. This is what he said. “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Did I hear that right, I wondered. Was he talking about the promised King? The one we had been waiting and waiting for? Did he really just say that I was going to be the mother of Israel’s King?

page 16


Well, like Zechariah, I had some questions. Zechariah suggested to the angel that there was a problem in his plan—he and Elizabeth were too old to have children. I reminded the angel that I too had a problem with his plan. I wasn’t married. Surely he knew the proper order of things. Get married first and then have children. Thankfully he didn’t get mad at me for asking. But the answer he gave didn’t do much to alleviate my fears. In fact, the answer raised even more questions. The news he told me was shocking. He said that the child I was going to have was going to be the son of God, not the son of Joseph, the man I was engaged to. I wanted to ask who was going to tell Joseph, but I didn’t. I had already learned one thing: Be careful what you hope for; God may use you to accomplish it.

(everyone participate to show that without Christ none of us have HOPE) Speaker: Keep yourselves

FREEZE! Take a moment to think more about what you just read/heard!

3. What do you think Mary was hoping her new baby would do one day?

1. What is the longest you have ever had to wait for something? Does waiting for something ever make you want it even more? Why do you think God made the Israelites wait so long for a king?

4. Why did God choose a poor girl to become the mother of the most important king in the world?

2. How would you react if you saw an angel in your room like Mary and Zechariah did? Do you think you would be afraid at first? Why did God send a powerful angel to announce these messages?

Blow out the HOPE candle

5. Like Mary, do you know of any promises God has made in the Bible that you are waiting to come true? Name two, or find two in the Bible (such as some day, Jesus will return!). This Christmas, what can you hope for that doesn’t cost money, can’t fit in a stocking or box under the tree, and is something only God can give you? Pray and ask God for that right now!

in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. (Jude 1:21) Christ Present

Collect one small item this week that represents what you hope in God for. It can be as simple as a written note, a picture, or even something from nature. Place your object in the Christ Present box, which will be opened during family devotional time on Saturday. (See the explanation of the “Christ Present” on page 10.) page 17


We need Psalm 130:5–8 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. 6 My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. 5

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love, and with him is full redemption. 8 He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.

7

page 18

hope

Monday, December 3

Tuesday, December 4

Read

Read

Psalm 130:5–8

Psalm 130:5–8

Freeze!

Freeze!

Sometimes, we have to wait for good things. Even Christmas day sometimes seems like it will never come! But it is worth the wait! When Jesus came to earth, do you think it was worth the wait for the Israelites?

Psalm 130 says that God would redeem Israel. Something that is “redeemed” has a new owner, kind of like when you get a Christmas present and it’s yours for good!

Pray

Ask God to help you be patient as you wait for Jesus to return to earth again one day as our King!

Who would be the new “owner” of Israel when God redeems Israel? Pray

Is God your owner? If not, ask God to be your owner and King. If He is your owner, ask Him to help you obey him.


Each weekday, consider lighting the hope candle to begin your Scripture reading, and even sing the “Advent Song,” found at www.advent.calvarygr.org. After all, it is Jesus’ birthday we are preparing to celebrate!

Wednesday, December 5

Thursday, December 6

Friday, December 7

Read

Read

Read

Psalm 130:5–8

Psalm 130:5–8

Psalm 130:5–8

Freeze!

Freeze!

Freeze!

If you own something, you are responsible to take care of it. Who owned Israel? Who would be responsible to take care of Israel?

What are some things that only God can give you this Christmas?

The Bible says that Jesus came to earth to redeem all people, including you. Have you been “redeemed?” Who is your owner? Who can you trust to take care of you in any circumstance?

Pray

Thank God that He has promised to take care of all that He owns.

Have you put your hope in the Lord by asking Him for this? Pray

Ask God for something you hope for, something that only He can give you.

activities of hope!

Pray

Tell God that you hope in Jesus to return, who will one day take away all evil. Thank God for sending His Son, Jesus, to give us hope.

This Christmas, consider the following activities as a way to share your hope in Christ with others! 1) Give children in your community Christmas gifts on behalf of their incarcerated parents. Visit www.angeltree.org . 2) Ring the Salvation Army bell. Sign up for a time-slot at www.ringbells.org. page 19


We need

hope

Saturday, December 8 Read the nativity story!

Luke 1:1–25 Share the Christ Present

Have each family member show what he or she placed in the Christ Present and explain how it represents hope in God. Appoint someone to record names and explanations in your journal (for example, “John—a pebble reminding him that God’s promises are solid and enduring, especially during tough exams this week!”).

page 20


Week Two

peace W e need


Sunday, December 9

We need Place your wreath in the middle of the room on a well-supported table or platform. Dim the lights in the room. Ready your lighter or match. Read this short introduction.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. Christ has come!

peace

Light the PEACE candle (purple) Sing

Oh, come let us adore Him. Oh, come let us adore Him. Oh, come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Imagine this story being told by Mary, the mother of Jesus, God’s Son. These stories found in the Bible (Luke 1-2) will help you see that you need Jesus to give you hope, peace, joy and love this Christmas. Dramatized story from “Mary” available for download at www. advent.calvarygr.org

page 22


mary’s story My visit

with the angel Gabriel ended the way it began—suddenly. As soon as I said yes to his plan, he was gone. Poof. And I was left alone with my thoughts. Well, not just thoughts, they were more like doubts and fears. Right away I started wishing I had asked more questions. Like how would I tell Joseph about the baby I was going to have? How would I tell him that he was going to be a father? What would he think? What would he say? What would he do? Would he still want to marry me? Had I given the right answer to the angel? Should I have asked for more details before saying yes to his plan? Questions.Questions.Questions. I believed I was doing the right thing, but still . . .

page 23


As soon as Gabriel left I knew I had to talk to someone. And I knew who that someone was. I needed to talk to my cousin Elizabeth. She was older and wiser and she would help me understand what this news really meant. I grabbed some extra clothes and headed to the hill country. The day was hot, and the road was rocky and dusty, but I went as quickly as I could until I couldn’t go any further. Keep in mind this was not a half-hour hike. This was a three-day journey. By the time I got to the house where Elizabeth and Zechariah lived, I was tired and sweaty and dirty. When I announced my arrival, Elizabeth greeted me with great enthusiasm. Her unborn baby recognized my voice and jumped for joy in her stomach. Elizabeth was so excited to see me that she burst out with a blessing. In a voice so loud that all the neighbors could hear, she said, “Blessed are you

page 24


among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” She was talking about me. Me. I couldn’t quite comprehend all that was happening. When she finished, I burst into song. It was a song of joy about my baby and all the miracles God was doing to fulfill His promise and send us a savior. Little by little I was beginning to realize what a big responsibility I had been chosen for. All I wanted to do was glorify God and praise Him for choosing someone like me for this important task. He could have chosen someone rich who lived in a big fancy house, but He didn’t. He chose me, a poor young girl who had nothing special to offer the son of God. No big house. No servants. No fancy food. No expensive toys. The son of God was going to have a peasant girl for a mother. Can you even imagine?! page 25


I spent three months with Elizabeth. What a gift from God she was to me. When I left to go home I was ready for my new responsibilities. I knew that God had chosen me for this very special assignment, and I determined that I would be the absolute best mother I could be. By the time I got home three days later I was at peace. Almost. There was one more detail to take care of. I had to tell Joseph. I found him at work. He was very glad to see me and wanted to hear all about my visit with Elizabeth. But I had something more important to tell him, and I didn’t know where to begin. Suddenly the words just started spilling out. Angel. Baby. Son of God. Joseph stopped me. He put his hands on my shoulders and turned my face toward his. “I know,” he said. “I already know. The angel came to me too.” “Of course he did,” I said to myself. “Of course he did.” What made me think he wouldn’t? God took care of every detail. Every last detail. I decided then that I would not worry about this. I could trust God. I could be at peace. What a relief to trust God. What a relief to finally feel peace.

page 26


FREEZE! Take a moment to think more about what you just read/heard! 1. Mary had a lot of questions. Have you ever had a question that God didn’t answer right away? 2. What did Mary learn about trusting God in this story? Why do you think God doesn’t always fix our problems or answer all of our questions right away? 3. Like Elizabeth encouraged Mary, have you had a family member or friend help you have peace in a difficult circumstance? How did they encourage you? Try to think of three different people in your life who have helped you through difficult circumstances. Thank God for them right now!

Blow out the peace candle

(everyone participate to show that without Christ none of us have PEACE) Speaker: Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of

our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. (Jude 1:21) Christ Present

Collect one small item this week that reminds you of God’s peace. It can be as simple as a written note, a picture, or even something from nature. Place your object in the Christ Present box, which will be opened during family devotional time on Saturday. (See the explanation of the “Christ Present” on page 10.) page 27


We need Psalm 23:1-6 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 1

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 4

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

peace

Monday, December 10 Read

Psalm 23:1-6 Freeze!

Do you ever feel afraid and worried? About what? Anything recently? How might a shepherd comfort a sheep that is afraid? Pray

Ask God, your shepherd to give you peace, trusting that God cares about you like a shepherd cares for his sheep.

Tuesday, December 11 Read

Psalm 23:1-6 Freeze!

A shepherd always stays with his sheep. Does it give you peace to know that God is with you all day and all night? Why? Pray

Thank God for sending Jesus to earth so that we can know God is always with us.

6

page 28

Peace Activity!

Wondering where one will spend the next night or eat the next meal creates uneasiness, the opposite of peace. Mel Trotter Ministries is an

organization in Grand Rapids that helps meet the needs of the homeless. For the next week, decide that any chores your children perform will earn a particular fee (a nickel a job, a dollar a job, etc.). Your children will


Each weekday, consider lighting the peace candle to begin your Scripture reading, and even sing the “Advent Song,” found at www.advent.calvarygr.org. After all, it is Jesus’ birthday we are preparing to celebrate!

Wednesday, December 12

Thursday, December 13

Friday, December 14

Read

Read

Read

Psalm 23:1-6

Psalm 23:1-6

Psalm 23:1-6

Freeze!

Freeze!

Freeze!

At Christmas, things are cold and often frozen. Does the quiet snowfall ever give you peace like a sheep feels when in a green field with quiet water? How?

Are you ever afraid during the holidays? This Psalm says, “I will fear no evil.”

The last verse says that “goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life”…forever!

Pray

Thank God for the peace that Jesus brings us in our hearts, just like snow falling quietly or sheep in a safe, green field with quiet water. earn this money to spend in the Mel Trotter Christmas Gift Catalog (www. meltrotter.giving-hope. org/). Set up a jar labeled “Mel Trotter Christmas” and put money in the jar as children complete jobs. You might add spare

How can you trust God to take away your fears this Christmas? Pray

Ask God to take away a fear you have.

Does it make you happy to know that God’s love will follow you and stay with you even past Christmas Day? Why? Pray

Thank God that His gift of love is so great, that it takes all of your life to unwrap it all! change from your purse or pocket and encourage your children to make contributions. Counting the money each night may provide extra motivation. At the week’s end, visit the website and decide how to spend the money.

Will your family purchase Christmas meals at $1.92 per meal? Or maybe a warm coat for $25? Enjoy blessing the homeless in our community.

page 29


We need

peace

Saturday, December 15 Read the nativity story!

Luke 1:26-45 Share the Christ Present

Have each family member show what he or she placed in the Christ Present and explain how it represents peace. Appoint someone to record names and explanations in your journal (for example, “Jenna—a poem she wrote about not being afraid to tell her friends about Jesus”).

page 30


Week Three

W e need

joy


Sunday, December 16

We need Place your wreath in the middle of the room on a well-supported table or platform. Dim the lights in the room. Ready your lighter or match. Read this short introduction.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. Christ has come!

Imagine this story being told by Mary, the mother of Jesus, God’s Son. These stories found in the Bible (Luke 1-2) will help you see that you need Jesus to give you hope, peace, joy and love this Christmas. Dramatized story from “Mary” available for download at www.advent. calvarygr.org

page 32

joy

Light the JOY candle (pink) Sing

Oh, come let us adore Him. Oh, come let us adore Him. Oh, come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.


mary’s story For

the longest time nothing exciting happened in my life. But suddenly the nothing stopped and everything started. And once it started, it started happening very fast. First the angel visited me, then I became pregnant just as the angel said, then I visited Elizabeth, then Joseph and I had that all-important conversation, then we had a quiet, private wedding, and now this. I couldn’t believe it when Joseph showed me what he had received. “Is this what I think it is? I asked. “It is,” he said, with a look of compassion on his face. “Does it mean what I think it means?” I asked. “It does,” he said. “I’m sorry. I know this will be difficult for you.”

Joseph and the other men in our village had received a decree from Caesar Augustus, our enemy, the leader of the Roman army and ruler of the entire Roman Empire. Caesar had decided to take a census. That meant he wanted to count everyone, and everyone included us. But he wasn’t sending people to the villages to do the counting. He was demanding that we go to the town where we were born to register. Our hometown was Bethlehem. And Bethlehem was a long, long way away. Under the best of conditions it was a four-day journey. But these were not the best of conditions. I was going to have a baby very soon, so traveling would be slow and difficult. “Do I have to go?” I asked Joseph. “Yes,” he said, “we both have to go. But we’ll leave early and go slowly.” “Okay,” I said, trying to be positive. “I’ll get ready.”

page 33


Joseph and I did our best to prepare for the journey. The weather was turning cooler, so I packed extra blankets in case the baby was born while we were gone. Ordinarily we would walk, but Joseph found a donkey for me to ride in case I got too tired. Early the next morning we set off with some other relatives for the little town of Bethlehem. The one good thing about this long journey was that Joseph and I had lots of time to talk. And we certainly had plenty to talk about. Our lives were about to change in ways we couldn’t imagine. “At least the weather has cooled off,” I said. “We would be miserable if we had the hot summer sun beating down on our heads.” “That’s true,” he said. “Other than that, the timing couldn’t be worse,” I added, thinking of how much easier it would be if I were not expecting a baby any day. “It does seem that way,” Joseph said. “But maybe the timing is really perfect.” “What do you mean?” I asked.

page 34


page 35


“Do you remember what the prophet Micah said?” Before I could say anything, Joseph answered his own question. “Long ago, Micah said this: ‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.’” The words sent a tingle up my spine. I thought about what the angel had said about my baby being sent from God. How could I have forgotten the prophecy about Bethlehem? Of course we had to go to Bethlehem for the baby to be born. God had truly thought of everything. The details were falling into place perfectly. Joseph and I talked a lot as we walked, but we also spent a lot of time just thinking and praying—praying that we would be good parents to the Son of God.

page 36


Finally we made it to Bethlehem. Even though we left early, we were the last to arrive. All the available places to stay were filled. We looked and looked for a room that we could rent. There were none. I felt bad for Joseph. He knew the baby was going to be born soon, and he wanted a comfortable place for us. The best place he could find was a room called a stable where a family kept their animals. It wasn’t the kind of place I would have chosen, but at least there was plenty of hay to make a comfortable bed. We were very tired, so we settled in quickly, eager for a good night of rest. But before we could get to sleep, the baby decided to be born. Joseph and I delivered him all by ourselves. No doctors, no nurses, no medicine. We cleaned him up, wrapped him in the blankets I had brought, and placed him on a bed of hay in the animal’s feeding trough. He didn’t seem to mind that it wasn’t a proper bed. Joseph and I looked at each other and then at our new baby boy. We said his Blow out the joy candle name—Jesus. What a sweet, sweet sound. I can honestly say that (everyone participate to I have never felt such joy. show that without Christ none of us have JOY)

FREEZE! Take a moment to think more about what you just read/heard! 1. Mary and Joseph had some hard work ahead of them before Jesus was born—like traveling to Bethlehem on a four-day journey! Have you ever had to do something difficult that you had to work hard to stay happy about? 2. The Israelites often thought of God’s work in the Bible to stay joyful in difficult circumstances. What are some things God has done in the Bible that you remember which help you find joy in difficult circumstances?

Speaker: Keep yourselves

3. Share something that God has done in your life that reminds you that God loves you and cares about you. 4. Jesus was born in an animal barn, and wrapped in rags—kind of like a treasure wrapped in a used newspaper. How can “disguised” gifts sometimes be the best gifts? (Think of a “surprise” as a disguised gift.) Pray and thank God for Jesus, His surprise gift-in-disguise for the entire world!

in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. (Jude 1:21) Christ Present

Collect one small item this week that you rejoice in God for. It can be as simple as a written note, a picture or even something from nature. Place your object in the Christ Present box, which will be opened during family devotional time on Saturday. (See the explanation of the “Christ Present” on page 10.) page 37


We need Psalm 16:9-11 [David wrote] 9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. 11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

joy

Monday, December 17

Tuesday, December 18

Read

Read

Psalm 16:9-11

Psalm 16:9-11

Freeze!

Freeze!

What does this psalm say was the reason David was joyful? (God’s presence) What brings you joy at Christmas?

We can be glad even when we think about death. What does winter remind us about Jesus’ death and resurrection? (Winter doesn’t last forever. God brings new life in spring.)

Pray

Tell God that Jesus is your greatest joy, the best present you could have ever wished for!

Pray

Have you asked God to forgive your sins and give you new life? If you already have, thank God for sending Jesus to give us new life!

joy activity!

On Wednesday night, December 19, 7:15pm, your family is invited to come build a Gingerbread Nativity at Calvary Church in the Fellowship Hall (room 129)! This is a free event sponsored by our Children’s Ministry. page 38


Each weekday, consider lighting the joy candle to begin your Scripture reading, and even sing the “Advent Song,” found at www.advent.calvarygr.org. After all, it is Jesus’ birthday we are preparing to celebrate!

Wednesday, December 19

Thursday, December 20

Friday, December 21

Read

Read

Read

Psalm 16:9-11

Psalm 16:9-11

Psalm 16:9-11

Freeze!

Freeze!

Freeze!

This verse says God can give “eternal pleasures.” All of the Christmas presents in the world cannot compare to what it will be like in Heaven.

Joy is not just something that we feel—it can also be a choice. We can choose to have joy even in difficult circumstances because we know that God will take care of us. Is there something right now that makes you worry that you can instead choose to have joy about, trusting that God will take care of you?

The Bible says that God has “made known” the path of life to us. Christmas is a time to celebrate the life that Jesus brings us. Do you know the path to Heaven?

What do you think Heaven will be like? What will be your favorite part? Pray

Ask God to help you remember this Christmas that our greatest hope should be Heaven, where there are eternal pleasures with Him!

Pray

Ask God to help you be joyful at all times, because He will always take care of you!

How can someone be sure that one day they will live forever with God? What did Jesus do that would take away our sins and give us eternal life? (1 Corinthians 15:3) Pray

Thank God for sending His Son, Jesus, to show us the way to live forever with Him.

page 39


We need

joy

Saturday, December 22 Read the nativity story!

Luke 1:46-80 Share the Christ Present

Have each family member show what he or she placed in the Christ Present and explain how it represents joy. Appoint someone to record names and explanations in your journal (for example, “James—a glow-in-the-dark star that reminds us that we are to reflect the light of Jesus in the world.”)

page 40


Week Four

love

We need


Sunday, December 23

We need Place your wreath in the middle of the room on a well-supported table or platform. Dim the lights in the room. Ready your lighter or match. Read this short introduction.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. Christ has come!

love

Light the LOVE candle (pink) Sing

Oh, come let us adore Him. Oh, come let us adore Him. Oh, come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Imagine this story being told by Mary, the mother of Jesus, God’s Son. These stories found in the Bible (Luke 1-2) will help you see that you need Jesus to give you hope, peace, joy and love this Christmas. Dramatized story from “Mary” available for download at www.advent.calvarygr.org

page 42


mary’s story Excited

but exhausted. That’s how I felt after the baby was born. Joseph and I stared at Jesus for a long time. He was so beautiful, so peaceful. I didn’t know that it was possible to feel so much love. But I was getting so, so sleepy. I really needed some rest. Exhaustion was winning over excitement. Just as we were finally ready to drift off to sleep, we heard a great commotion outside. Joseph got up and poked his head out to see what it was. “Oh, Mary,” he called to me, “come see this. You’re not going to believe it.” I really didn’t want to get up, but I also didn’t want to miss whatever was going on. Slowly I got up. Slowly I draped blankets around me. Slowly I stepped out into the cool night.

page 43


The air was still. The sky was clear. The stars were bright. But there was something even brighter, something more beautiful than I have seen in my entire life. High above us, hovering over a nearby field of shepherds, a choir of angels filled the sky and made the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. Below them were the shepherds, once huddled together watching their sheep, now shielding their eyes from the bright light. Joseph and I stood as still as statues as we watched the shepherds and listened to the singers praising God: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.� Joseph and I knew what they were singing about. We looked at each other in amazement. They were singing about our new baby. They were singing about Jesus. Surely there has there ever been a more dramatic birth announcement.

page 44


page 45


Soon our little barn was filled with shepherds looking for the baby whose birth was announced by singing angels. They crowded to get in to the small space to get a glimpse of him. After hundreds of years, the waiting had come to an end. Hope was high. Peace was possible. Joy filled the air.

page 46


Oh, what a night. From now on it would be remembered as the night when God came down to dwell among us. And for now, He was living with Joseph and me. The promised King of Israel, the One we had been waiting for, the One who would rescue us and bring God’s salvation to the entire world, had come to us as a baby. As we pondered all these things, our hearts swelled with love—love for God, love for our new baby, and love for all those he came to save.

FREEZE! Take a moment to think more about what you just read/heard! 1. Have you ever been so excited about something that you just couldn’t sleep? When? 2. Most people thought shepherds were unimportant people back then. Why do you think God chose to tell the shepherds first about Jesus’ birth? 3. What things about Jesus’ birth show that He was the most important person in the world? (Powerful angels announced His coming, star led the wise men, prophecies, etc.)

4. Do you know anyone who is treated unfairly because other people think he or she is not important? How can you show God’s endless love to that person? Have you asked Jesus to forgive your sins, fill your heart with His love, and be your King? If you have not, you can pray and ask Him right now. Pray for someone else you know to be filled with Jesus’ love this Christmas.

Blow out the love candle

(everyone participate to show that without Christ none of us have LOVE) Speaker: Keep yourselves

in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. (Jude 1:21) Christ Present

This week think about all the items that family members have collected to represent HOPE, PEACE, and JOY. Of all of them, which one do you think best represents God’s LOVE. Prepare to share your choice on Christmas Day. (See the explanation of the “Christ Present” on page 10.)

page 47


We need

love

Monday, December 24 or Tuesday, December 25 Read the nativity story!

Luke 2:1-20 the Christ Present

After reading the final part of the Christmas story, place baby Jesus in the manger and then open presents if that is your tradition. After opening the presents, gather together to open the “Christ Present.” First discuss each person’s choice for the object that best represents Christ’s LOVE. Then select items that will remain in the box from Christmas to Christmas. Choose objects that symbolize your “present” to Christ and that represent how your family has worshiped Him during Advent. Light the CHRIST candle

After closing the “Christ Present,” light the final candle, the Christ candle, which represents God’s gift to us—“Christ’s Presence!”

page 48


Place your wreath in the middle of the room on a well-supported table or platform. Dim the lights. Ready your lighter or match. Read this short introduction.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.� The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. Christ has come! Light the CHRIST candle (white) Speaker lights all the candles. Candles may burn the entire day as a reminder that Christ is with us. Sing

Oh, come let us adore Him. Oh, come let us adore Him. Oh, come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

page 49


more for kids Kids, there is more to experience after Christmas at Calvary Church! Sunday Mornings

Nursery (birth through two-year-olds) – 8:10am, 9:40am & 11:15am, Entrance M Preschool (three- and four-year-olds, by Dec. 1) – 8:10am, 9:40am & 11:15am, Entrance M Elementary (five-year-olds through fourth grade) – 9:40am & 11:15am, Entrance K Kids ‘N Action

Wednesdays, 6:30-7:50pm five-year-olds (by December 1) through fourth grade Check-in at Entrance K Through large group, small group and elective activities, kids fiveyears-old through fourth grade experience spiritual growth in learning from the book of James that true belief in God is evidenced by obedience to God’s commands – “Faith in action!” LUMIN8 Children’s Choir

Wednesdays, 6:00-6:40pm four-year-olds (by December 1) through sixth grade Check-in at Entrance K LUMIN8 will proclaim God’s glory in a variety of performances throughout the year: Sunday morning services, a Christmas program, and a spring concert. The choir will also record a CD at the end of the year that will be distributed to families at Calvary.


join us for

christmas eve at calvary church

Monday, December 24 | 5:00pm & 10:00pm No childcare provided. There’s nothing quite like the night before Christmas; the anticipation of the birth of the Savior. This year, we invite you to make Calvary’s Christmas Eve service part of your holiday tradition. Lights hang brightly from all corners of the Sanctuary. The Christmas story is read for all to enjoy and we’ll sing carols around the piano throughout the night. It’s a simple service; a warm and spirited prelude to your Christmas celebration.

We hope you’ll join us.


Calvary Church 707 East Beltline NE | Grand Rapids, MI 49525 616-956-9377 | calvarygr.org

Freeze!  

2012 Family Advent Devotion Guide from Calvary Church, Grand Rapids